Did the Obama White House Ban Nativity Scenes?

According to social media chatter, the "War on Christmas" extended all the way to the White House.

  • Published 5 December 2016


The White House decided not to display a Christmas Nativity scene in 2016 (or any other year).



For many, the Christmas season is a time of celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For many others, it is the perfect time of year to recirculate misinformation, fake news stories, and embellished outrage.

An old rumor that the White House had banned the Nativity scene was recirculated in December 2016, after it was mentioned in an article about the Obama’s Christmas decorations:

When looking through the photos of the White House decorations, there is an abundance of trees, gingerbread houses, and snowmen. Nowhere is there any image of Jesus Christ or the Nativity scene.

Similar claims were made nearly every year while President Obama was in office. However, a Nativity scene was on display at the White House during every year of Obama’s term. In fact, the White House Crèche has been displayed in the East Room during the holiday season every year since 1967:

The centerpiece of the room is the annual tradition of The White House Crèche. The nativity scene, made of terra cotta and intricately carved wood, was fashioned in Naples, Italy in the eighteenth century. Donated to the White House in the 1960s, this piece has sat in the East Room for the holidays for more than 45 years, spanning nine administrations.

The 2016 White House Nativity scene can be glimpsed in the following photograph from Getty Images:

Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes